(Hopefully) on Wednesday: Interlachen.
Season record: 17-5 in duals..
Tournament record: 4th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 23rd at Lyman Invitational December 19-20, 10th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, 7th at George Jenkins IBT 1/30-31, T-34th at Girls’ State Meet February 6-7, 10th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 3rd at 3A-District 1 meet February 28, 13th at 3A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-30th at 3A state meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: With a lot of seniors in this year’s group, this was the Bobcats’ chance to make a push into north Florida’s elite, and Buchholz did find itself ranked all season long. Buchholz was one of the main reasons I wanted to expand coverage in 2014-15, mainly because they worked with us right from day 1. This is a team — the three Gainesville-city schools really are of a piece on this — with a coaching staff committed to its kids and wanting to make wrestling bigger in the city of Gainesville. Next year may be a little harder for the Bobcats, because the group’s going to be a lot younger. But we’re still going to be around to follow them. I thought we might see more than just one state qualifier this year, but it’s entirely possible — even with the youth coming back — that there’ll be another one in 2015-16.
2014-15 MVP: Pretty easy choice. We all knew that senior 152 Myckel Hutchinson was going to be really good this season. After all, he’d won districts last year and was one match from states, and he was staying in the same weight class, so we certainly were projecting him to get to The Show this year. Predictably, he started the year at 160, and beat several good 160s (Helsel, Neubeck, Langdo, Folkner, Berry, Treadwell), hung in against Martorano and Camden phehom Bunmi Smith. And then he dropped down and announced that not only would he be a strong local presence, he’d be a strong state presence as well, beating Winter Springs’ Max Wohlabaugh twice. 152 proved to be a brutally tough weight for our area kids in 3A, with two region placewinners earning state hardware and a third just one match outside of state. But after dropping a 10-5 semifinal loss to Osceola, Hutchinson refused to settle for a fifth-place finish, taking a solid consi semi win over a kid with 63 wins at the time. He then saw Wohlabaugh for the fourth time in the season, and just couldn’t ride him out in the ultimate tiebreaker. That’s against a defending state champ, folks. That’s an MVP-level of wrestling.
Returning starters for 2015-16: Andrique Broughton (junior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 25-21 at 113), Gant Moore (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 38-17, I had him at 37-17 in 15-16 at 120), Tommy Howell (senior in 15-16, I had him at 33-11 at 126, did not compete in post-season due to a family commitment), Erik Kverneland (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 28-19, I had him at 26-20 at 160), Gerald Rushing (senior in 15-16, Track and I both had him at 14-20 at 170, Dylan Lewis (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 16-23, I had him at 12-21 at 182), Aaron Menden (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 1-12, I had him at 1-13 at 195), Jose Romero (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 16-20, I had him at 12-21 at 220). The Bobcats also had part-time starters Trakiyqn Thompson (junior in 15-16, I had him at 4-6 at 195) and Armani Silva (junior in 15-16, I had him at 4-5 at 285, where he started the year as the starter). Khaunee Sullivan (junior in 15-16, I had him at 6-6 at 152) also saw quite a bit of time in the lineup.
2015-16 captain: Ill-timed (from the team’s standpoint) family commitment aside last season, Howell is a reasonable choice, as the top returning senior, as captain pick. It’s actually possible he might not have gotten out of districts, but he probably would have been seeded to do so. Would have been a great first-round match down at Palm Coast between him and Mandarin’s Tanner Brown, who wound up placing fourth and moving on to regions. Howell had some good matches during the year, and made a ton of strides from his sophomore to junior seasons, but he’ll have to find ways to win matches he’s not expected to win if he wants to get to Kissimmee for his final campaign. I believe he can find a way to get it done. Junior Gant Moore has the strongest resume and he’s wrestling off-season; he’d be another solid pick.
Heaton’s Hero: Had Buchholz been an area team a year ago, this year’s winner would have been last year’s winner as well. The strides he made from a year just about would have taken him out of consideration for the honor, but what kept him in it was staying up a weight over his lowest competing weight, in order to help the team fill out its lineup. I appreciate that in a kid that’s willing to “take one for the team,” so to speak. And while the move up didn’t exactly do him tons of favors, he did have several more wins than a year ago (as noted above, there’s a little bit of difference between what I had and what Track had for him). And I think he’ll be even better next year. Because he stuck it out for the whole season and wrestled most of it at least one weight up at a tough place to move up (it’s a lot of strength to go from 170 to 182), I am listing junior Dylan Lewis as the Buchholz winner of the Heaton’s Hero mention for 2014-15.